Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don’s “Up-Lifting” Experience

In most cases, life with our Tibetan Yaks has been….educational, to say the least. But the other day, Don had a most unusual experience. One that neither he – nor I - will soon forget.

He was out doing the chores, and stopped by the bullpen to see what “Billy” was up to. Billy is our beautiful Yak bull. He truly is a “Yak,” for the females are actually referred to as “Naks.” We also have a little yearling bull, but Billy really has a formidable-looking set of horns, and is a magnificent-looking specimen.

When Don got to the pen, he noticed that Billy had entangled himself in an old electric fence wire. He may have somehow pulled it off the side of the old steel shed. He had it wound around his hind leg, and was in such a panic that he was actually falling on the ground, trying to get away from the terrible-awful creature that was gripping him.

Don went over the fence and pulled a tool out of his pocket, as he was planning on cutting the wire to set Billy free. But as he got closer to Billy, he decided that this was probably not a wise decision. Our Yak have not been handled, prior to moving to our farm. Therefore, they are a little flighty and extremely unpredictable. And Billy, being a bull, is even more of a threat. So Don began to back away from Billy, and before he got to the fence Billy yanked free from the fence wire, and spun around. And charged.

Now, I was walking away from the chicken house on the other side of the barn. I had no clue that Don was even outside, let alone in any kind of trouble. But then I heard Don yell “YOU…(I’ll leave this part up to your imagination) …” and it did not sound like his normal voice. It was more like: a shout of pain, of shock and disbelief…and maybe even a little bit of fear thrown in there, somewhere. I don’t remember doing it, but I must have sat the egg basket down, as I noted afterwards that none of the eggs were broken. All I really remember is running as fast as I could (not easy with my back problems, let me tell you) and peeling around the corner of the barn. I started shouting his name before I even got there, and when I did, I couldn’t see him anyplace. But then he answered, and all he said was “STAY AWAY! STAY AWAY!” But I climbed the Yak fence, and saw Billy with his head/horns lowered, facing Don who had his back against the inside of the fence. He was sort of crouched, and he was holding his leg. All I knew was that he was hurt – and trapped. And then I did something that I never would have though possible. I decided right then and there that I was going in. There was absolutely no fear. All I knew was that I had to save another human being, and there was simply no fear at all. So I started going over the fence.

But Don starting shouting “NO! JUST STAY WHERE YOU ARE! DON’T COME IN!” never taking his eyes off Billy. I trusted his judgment, realizing that Billy probably would have, at that point, gone for Don. And it would have been all over with. So, I picked up weeds, twigs, rocks, clods of dirt, whatever I could find. And I started throwing them out at Billy. He was so far away from me that nothing actually came into contact with him. But, he did turn his head and look at me and at the objects that were landing several feet away from him. This did the trick, as he was now distracted. And Don was able to make it back over the fence. I still don’t know how he managed to get over that fence. Because Billy had gotten him with his horn just inside his left thigh, yanked it all the way up to his groin, and thrown him 2-3 feet up into the air. He scraped and bruised the whole inside of his thigh.

You know how bull-headed (pardon the pun) that Donald is, but he finally did agree to come into the house and sit down in the recliner. I took out a pound of frozen hamburger, wrapped it in a dishtowel, and had him place it on the (ur, um) most tender area of the encounter. And he came out of the whole ordeal with nothing but scrapes and bruises. And I think the bruising might - or might not - include his pride. And, needless to say, we both have a great deal more respect for Big Bad Billy. I can still call him over to the fence and scratch inside his ears and lull him to sleep by rubbing his forehead and his big, lovely eyes. But there will always be the memory of that fateful day, and Don’s close encounter. I guess that you could say that he had quite an “up-lifting” experience!!!


Billy, just waking up from one of our "ear-scratching" sessions!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Kung Fu Guinea

It’s a sad tale, ‘tis true, but the fact is that the animals here on the Good Shepherd Farm have begun to fight back.

It all began back last spring, when the female Guinea decided to start a family. Now, the male Guinea was gung-ho for this idea. In fact, in his enthusiasm over being the MAN of the house, he abruptly began attacking everything and everyone that came anywhere near his cage, and his ‘wife.’

The wife laid over 20 eggs, and showed no sign of wanting to sit on them to hatch them, or keep them warm, safe, or dry. By this time, we were well into summer, and the eggs had begun to emit a decidedly sulphur-like odor. So, we carefully removed them from the nest and disposed of them out in the far end of the field. I checked each one, and none of them had begun to develop into the little baby Guinea keets as we had hoped. However, the female was not deterred from her business of starting ‘the little family,’ and so when she had deposited 9 more eggs into the nest we moved them over to Connie and Norm’s Ash Lane Farm. They have an old Buff Orphington hen that was decidedly ‘broody’ and she took over those little foster-eggs as though they had been hers to begin with. Oh, happy day. I would like to tell you that, if you want a hen to hatch out eggs, you can usually count on a either a Bantam hen or a Buff Orphington.

Now, for those of you who have no clue as to what a Guinea really is, the best way for me to describe one is this: it is a bird somewhat the size of a chicken, having a naked neck, and a sort of ‘helmet’ on the top of it’s head. They originated in Africa, and come in a lovely variety of colors, ranging from buff to chocolate, soft gray to lavender to dark gray, solid or pied. We have the Pearl variety, which has dark gray feathers, and each and every feather is covered with the most perfect little polka dots. They really are quite remarkable. However…..Except for the fact that they eat myriads of small bugs - including wood ticks - I cannot for the life of me understand why on earth anyone would want to keep them. For, a guinea emits a noise that could easily break the sound barrier. It is somewhat difficult to describe, but it is similar to a metallic rattling, horn bellowing, roaring, throbbing screech that appears to begin at their toenails and thereafter emits from their screaming beaks. This is called a ‘warning sound’ and can be set off by various dangers, such as: an airplane, flying high above the farm; a semi driving down the highway, ½ mile in the distance; a Yeti just passing through; one of us walking out to do chores; the television going on inside the house….


Well, the old hen hatched out 7 of the little guinea keets, and has successfully taught them how to speak ‘chicken.’ They understand her clucks and clicks, and I am sure that they love her with all the love that their little bird hearts can hold. It is all very sweet. But, going back to the Guineas…..

Don took pity on the pair, being cooped up in their little ‘chicken tractor’ all the time, so he decided to turn them loose this past Sunday. As luck would have it, Sunday was also the day that I decided to do all the mowing around the Yak pens and the barnyard. Soon into my mission, I became aware that each and every time I came close to the MAN, he would rush towards the lawn tractor, screaming his warning noise, and would try attacking either me or the mower. I yelled at him, but to no avail. Then, he began making dives at my foot and leg, and at one point I even took off my Croc sandal and shook it at him menacingly. This only made the situation worse.

It happened in the late afternoon, when I was nearly done with the mowing. I was driving alongside the hog pen, trying to miss the garden hose that was stretched out towards the garden. As I looked down and to my right, I could see my shadow. As I watched, mesmerized, another shadow flew up from behind me, and came directly towards my shadow-head. At that same instant, a powerful force nailed me right in the back of the head and nearly slammed me into the steering wheel. In fact, David Carridine-Guinea had sailed up off the ground, delivered a swift karate kick to the back of my head, and then karate-chopped both of my shoulders with his powerful wings.

I was stunned, to say the least. I just could not believe that this little sawed-off turkey wanna-be had attacked me. After all, I am about 30 times bigger than he is. At least. So I yanked off my Croc sandal again, jumped off the lawn tractor, and started chasing him all over the pig yard, yelling things that I will not dare to write down in this blog. And once again, this only made the situation worse. In fact, the situation is so bad that now, whenever I go out to do the chores, I have resorted to slinking alongside farm buildings and peering around corners before running across the open areas, feed bucket in hand. I can almost hear the “Mission Impossible” theme song playing in my head. I keep hoping that Guineas do not have a very long memory.

Ah well. There is always hope.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Magic Moment

Tonight I had a really neat experience, and I thought I would share it with you...

I worked hard again today. I crawled around in the muddy garden, cutting the 'suckers' off the broom corn, pulling a few weeds, etc. I mowed one of the Yak pastures, which had burdock and thistle growing in it. I helped move the guineas, and set up their pen in the taller grass. I tethered the goats out under the trees, as I am now "flushing" them, getting them ready for breeding later this fall. I tried working on my 'Yard Man' trimmer, as it has a leak in an 'O' ring, and I got the oil and gas added to it, and the belt back on. And I also had to add gas and oil to the riding mower. The gas can had a 'little' problem, and I ended up with gas all running down my legs, making rivers of mud through the dirt caked on my legs, from the garden. And, I did the chores. Twice. I was pretty grubby after all this was done, and I looked forward to a nice, warm, bath.


Came into the house waaay after dark, and Don said there had been an alarm going off downstairs. It was the alarm for the outside septic tank. Meaning that, due to the heavy rain we just had, the septic tank was full. Meaning that, no one can flush the toilets. And, no one can take baths!!!

Well, earlier in the day had I noticed that the little purple wading pool had blown out into the back pasture during the rain/wind storm. And, it was nearly 1/2 full of water. Clear rain water! I had dipped my hand into it, and teased Don about skinny dipping in the pool because the water was so warm. He had declined.

Well, it was 11:00, I was sweaty and dirty, and I smelled like gasoline from filling the mower and working on the trimmer. And my hair was dirty. So....

I made my way through the darkness, out to the little wading pool in the back pasture, carrying soap, shampoo, and a bath towel. I hung my towel over the goat's fence, and I laid my dirty clothes over the fence, as well. I washed my hair first, and then slid into the pool.....Oh! it was quite a bit cooler than it had been earlier in the day! But I didn't care! Because the moon tonight is FULL, and it was a big, creamy-yellow ball in the southern sky. And there was no breeze... just the refreshing coolness of the evening. And the fireflies were dancing all over the back pasture and the lawn! Just like Christmas-twinkle lights! Oh, they are so beautiful!! And there was not a sound to be heard, anywhere. Not a single car passed by on the county hwy., down from our gravel road. It was the most magical, beautiful little kernel in time. And it was just too remarkable to not share it with YOU!

I hope that you find a magical moment, too.